Global Norms on Drone Policy

Lt Col Leslie Pratt, USAF

Based on contributions to our Theme Week, held from October 7-11, and the following debate, the editorial team has published Atlantic Memo #46 "Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy." Atlantic Community Members agreed that drone technology is too important to ban outright, but reforms and certain restrictions are necessary to prevent the emergence of customary law, while allowing for the creation of global norms. View

No Need for Germany to Rush Acquisition of Armed Drones

The German government is discussing the purchase of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones. While such systems do have advantages from a purely military point of view, the current generation of drones is not likely to be useful in the context of German missions abroad. Rather, their purchase could even be detrimental to the security of German soldiers and broader German foreign policy goals. View

Atlantic Memo on Drones Presented in Public Panel

Atlantic Memo #46: Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy was presented at a public event in the German Federal Foreign Office. The panel discussion, hosted by together with the Politisch-Militärische Gesellschaft (PMG) e.V., brought together a diverse set of voices to consider the military and strategic deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The discussion also connected young academics with established experts in constructive debate on the subject. View

Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy

Memo 46: Atlantic Community members have come to a consensus that, due to current US drone policy, drones need to be regulated to prevent the emergence of a customary law. The latest Atlantic Memo "Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy" seeks reform on both domestic and international levels, resulting in increased transparency and restricted armed drone deployment. View

Draft Atlantic Memo: Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy

Memo 46: The editorial team has written a draft Atlantic Memo, outlining policy recommendations from our Theme Week, on "Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy." The authors, as well as members who contributed insightful comments, are now working together to produce a final draft, which will be sent to experts for feedback. You can still participate in the discussion by commenting below. View

Transparency Key to Reformed US Drone Policy

In order to repair the damage to its reputation, the US needs to reform its current drone policy. Many feel that the Executive Branch of the US Government has been acting without adequate checks and balances. The US Senate should demand more transparency and oversight and move to have explicit restrictions placed on the Executive Branch. A more transparent US drone policy would ease concerns of its allies and could allow the United States to lead the debate on international drone policy. View

Alternative Drone Discourse Needed From Europe

With the counter-terrorism policies of the US Government causing so much concern globally, it is necessary that an alternative discourse is initiated in Europe. This needs to be from the bottom-up and be a true representation of modern societies’ values. Europeans need to engage in the debate about drones in order to preserve key democratic values such as transparency, accountability, and rule of law. View

Civilian Safety Crucial in World of UAVs

With UAS become more and more common place, the necessity to ensure civilian safety is increasing. Regulations are needed to prevent the encroachment of authorities into the private lives of citizens or the endangerment of civilians in conflict situations, ensuring the maintenance of the principle of proportionality. As UAS are adapted to military and law enforcement roles, it is essential that we plan accordingly for the use of autonomous systems in the near future. View

International Watchdog Needed to Monitor Drone Operations

To avoid a scenario such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons during the Cold War, transatlantic partners need to work together to regulate the use of UAVs. In an attempt to curtail countries exploiting the new technology, UAVs should be registered with their respective national aviation authorities and an international watchdog should be set up to monitor their compliance with foreign airspace. Such regulations would prevent the misuse of drones in the future. View

Drones as a Means of a Pre-emptive Security Strategy

In his poem "Little Advice to Damocles," Erich Kästner wrote about that famous mythical sword that not the sharpness of its blade, but the tininess of the string that holds it is what is actually posing the threat. Concerning the necessity of a Western combat drone policy today, his words show their wisdom: The solution lies in strengthening the string, not in blunting the blade. If the regulations imposed on the use of drones are strong enough, then the need for an outright ban can be avoided. View

Developing Drone Norms Through Domestic Legislation

Any constructive debate on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) ought to begin with an assertion that these platforms are here to stay. As such, they are not just an international issue but will very soon become a national issue, raising concerns about privacy and law enforcement. It is therefore necessary for any norms for drones to first of all be initiated at the national level. Domestic principles and norms should then be transferred to international operations. View